Reader Poll: What would you take?

Each year, the middle school in Gettysburg runs a fundraiser for the PTO. They coerce the students to sell magazines and cookie dough. Each year, my kids pound the pavement, begging the neighbors to make a purchase. And of course, they rely on Susan and me to round out their sales to meet their quota. If they sell fifty dollars in merchandise, the kids can participate in a bounce house party. It’s the school’s trademark event, and it’s surprisingly good at motivating the kids to sell, sell, sell.

Sophie finished up her middle school career two years ago, and Eli started his tenure the year after she left. So together, we’ve had five consecutive years of fund raisers. I’m not sure how magazines and cookie dough got lumped together. I suppose some marketing type ran an analysis that showed people who don’t read magazines like to make simple cookies.

Susan and I are readers. In past years, we’ve opted for magazines. Every year, I order Runner’s World, and Susan rotates between Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens and Real Simple. I don’t really like Runner’s World. It’s ridiculously formulaic, and every two to three years, it repeats topics. But every eighteen months or so, they publish an article that is truly great. Usually first-person, creative non-fiction piece that is good enough to read twice—inmates completing a marathon within the fence of their jail; a runner staving off advancing Alzheimer’s with exercise; an abusive coach at a girls’ reform school. Insightful essays about damaged people. They encourage me that one day, maybe I can be published in Runner’s World. This is what keeps me subscribing year after year.

This year, Eli was uninterested in taking his coercion to the streets, he did his arm-twisting at home. I actually appreciate this. I always feel bad when our neighbors buy something. Since *I* never want to buy magazines or cookie dough, I assume they don’t want to either. They’re just doing it to be nice.

With just our family buying this year, we needed to buy cookie dough and magazines. And let me say, that cookie dough is freaking fantastic! We got chocolate sea salt caramel. And now we’re eating cookies every single day.

I’ve had enough of Runner’s World. I couldn’t bring myself to buy another year. Plus, I’ve learned from past subscriptions, they’re going to keep sending me the magazine in a “last issue” wrapper for the next six months. This year I ordered Time Magazine.

I’ve never ordered a news magazine before. I’ve always been content to get my news from the paper. But now, we don’t buy a paper, I just get my news from the internet, and I keep noticing huge holes in my knowledge. It took me over a week to read about why Harvey Weinstein was in the headlines every day. But of course, I read five articles about climate change every day. I figured that Time would round out my knowledge a little more.

My first issue, received a couple of days ago,  is recounting the fires in and around Sonoma County. You’re probably thinking “wild fires, that’s yesterday’s news.” I kind of like dwelling on a topic a few days beyond the news cycle. It reminds me that our massive disasters, splashed across every news site, will disappear tomorrow. When was the last time you read anything about Puerto Rico… and they still don’t have power!

Time Magazine described how Santa Rosa resident Karissa Kruse awoke to flames rapidly overtaking her neighborhood. “She grabbed her cats and her laptop” and got the hell out. This got me thinking… what would I grab.

Of course, my first concern would be for my family. I’d make sure they were safe, and then my cats. But if I were home alone, no pets, no people, what would matter most to me. If I woke up in the middle of the night with seconds to react, acting on instinct, what would I take.

I’m a little depressed realizing how little I have that I value. Maybe it’s good. Stuff is all replaceable. My shoes, my bikes, books, furniture, art. None of it really matters to me. I don’t have a collection of autographs or any family heirlooms that can’t be replaced. Really, I’ve got nothing.

Like Karissa Kruse, I would grab my laptop. I spend hours with it every day. I write stories like this. I connect with friends and family via email. I link up with other bloggers using WordPress. It contains my photos, my music and my writing. I’m shocked to learn that my laptop, bought three years ago for $349, is my most important possession.

Subscribing to Time Magazine is already enriching my life. It has given me the gift of reflection. Maybe, as my house is coming down around me, I better grab the most recent issue of Time as well.

How about you? What would you take?

26 thoughts on “Reader Poll: What would you take?

  1. Pants. I would probably grab pants. Wouldn’t want to run into my super German, elderly neighbor while fleeing sans pants. Seriously, the only thing besides the cat, would be my keys, phone, wallet, and passport. I’ve been a Time subscriber since high school. Sometimes I don’t read it until a week later, when I sit down and read two issues. There is something to be said for looking beyond the click bait online headlines and constant ‘yesterday’s news’ 24 hour news cycle and involving yourself in an extensive piece.

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  2. I’ve actually thought about this a number of times. My apartment complex requires renters insurance and it hasn’t escaped my notice that my policy coverage far exceeds the value of everything I own. Sure, I’m proud of my book collection and the furniture I’ve painstakingly picked out and purchased for myself over the years, but if it all went up in flames I don’t think I would be that upset. It’s replaceable stuff. So I would probably just grab my purse or phone and hope for the best.

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    • I always wonder if digital music is insured. I must have three or four thousand songs. I realize that most people don’t buy music anymore. They stream it with a service. But I don’t. I still make mix CDs to listen to in the car.

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  3. Interesting question. Assuming the people and cats are out and safe, what else comes with me is a mixture of utility; what might be really handy to have while out of the house, and difficulty of replacement; what is hard to replace and could limit ability to move forward post-event or just be a huge pain in the butt.
    In the utility category, I notice my background as someone who’s traveled in the wilderness and overseas, and is a physician influences my choices. Decent footwear, lightweight boots or sturdy shoes if only one pair goes. Protective clothing appropriate to the weather. Water and water bottle, purifier if you’ve got it. First aid kit, basic medicines. basic food, for people and pets. Tent and sleeping bags. flashlight. cell phone and charger, laptop and charger. Money, ID, including passport, credit cards.Backpack to haul all this stuff. Keys.
    In the pain in the butt category, some of the above items also fit: ID, credit cards, keys. More important documents, like wills, powers of attorney, deeds, insurance information etc.
    As I write this out, its pretty clear to me that stuff isn’t very important to me. I use it, I appreciate it, and I can do pretty well without it.
    At at the end of the day, if you can’t take anything but yourself, put on a good pair of socks over good socks, wear a protective jacket, and go! If you’ve got a car, take it if you can,

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      • You are correct Jeff, in that often there is not much time. That’s where the concept of the “go bag” comes in: a prepacked set of essentials that one can grab and go with as one flees out the door. (with a weeks meds in it is a good idea). If one is preparing for a hurricane, there is generally a lot of advance warning. With the recent fires in California, shoes might be a luxury!

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  4. Hmmm, makes you think what you really value (and for the logical side of me) what would I really need? So assuming kids and dog are secured by my husband I would also grab my laptop. I am amazed to think about how much of me is on this thing, and how often I use this thing to access my life in finances, bills, etc. I would hope to grab the lockbox with everyones important papers. And if I had the speed and strength of Superman, I would grab my treadmill too (but I guess if I had the speed and strength of Superman, I wouldn’t need it). Alright, scratch the treadmill. My running shoes then.
    It would be great to just have an emergency exit kit already packed. I may think a little more about that.

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      • I haven’t blogged in so long, I almost feel like a non-blogger. The laptop carries all of my commnication with all of my kids therapists and workers. And their schedules. It’s how I manage our finances and pay our bills. If I somehow forgot what the kids were for Halloween, I can pull up the picture site I store pictures and see the memories. Laptop is a solid #1. Some might say their phone, I guess. I am not as phone savvy. I still like this thing.

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  5. Like you said, the family is the obvious first concern. Also like you, I really don’t have much in the way of physical posessions. So, like you again, (and a couple of your other commenters), it would be my laptop, wallet, and smartphone. Everything of importance is either in my wallet or can be accessed with my devices. All the important papers and such, my wife, like yours, (noticing a theme here?), has stored in a fireproof safe. (What would we do without our awesome wives?)

    And speaking of wives, your question reminds me of the movie “Leap Year” with Amy Adams, a surprisingly enjoyable rom-com that would be a great movie to watch with her.

    Thanks for sharing the “gift of reflection”!

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  6. Family first and then the cat. Next would probably be my pearl necklace and my care bear my grandparents (both now deceased) gave me. They are my most prized posessions which can not be replaced. My phone is pretty much glued to my hand so there is no forgetting that. It is a very interesting question to think about though.

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      • See my grandparents gave each of us girls 1″ of pearls for Christmas every year until my grandfather passed away in ’87. I only have about 8″ but it is one of thise things you cherish and pass down to your daughter when she gets married. The Care Bear was given to me by my grandfather who was my best friend and was basically my father for the first 7 years of my life. These are the only concrete things I have left of them. It may sound silly but that’s just me.

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  7. If there was no time to think, then I’d grab that little metal box that contains all my important papers: birth certificate, bank account information, cards for Medicare, Social Security, health insurance, photocopies of my ID card, etc. Without those, it would be a nightmare to reestablish my life after a disaster.

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